Posts Tagged ‘kings’

I had an interesting discussion yesterday where I learned something new. We all know that kings (and queens, princes, princesses … you get the idea) have crowns. They may not go around wearing them very often these days, but they are certainly stashed somewhere. Give a child the task to draw a king, they will inevitably draw a guy with a crown. 

The interesting part for me was, I was informed that the more important a king was (and there were many in Europe, I assure you), the fewer points his crown had.

Now - this not may mean much to you at first. But given information like that, I immediately put my puzzle pieces together, some of them having little to do with monarchies in the classic sense of the word. You see, in German, there is a saying (and one that I have used quite often) that goes like this: „Da fällt mir kein Zacken aus der Krone.“ Loosely translated: “That’s not gonna make me lose a point on my crown.” 

A person would use this particular expression when, for example, their boss had just walked into their office with someone and informed them they would now be required to share the office space with this nice, new, friendly-enough-looking, perhaps even attractive co-worker. They grin and whip off the abovementioned clever sentence, thereby clarifying exactly WHO is wearing the crown. In essence, it means that, should one lose that point, you have also lost something infinitely more important: dignity. Should you allow that point to fall off of or out of your crown, you are – to use a more American expression, albeit dated – “royally pissed.”

The idea that more powerful kings had less points to lose and hence, were more apt to be aware of the fact they must retain their composure (and dignity) lest their crown look pretty sorry … made sense to me. You shouldn’t be in such a position unless you can retain your composure. Think US Presidential Race 2008. The winner of that particular crown fits this bill. I would trust him with three points. Hell, even two.

The disappointment came while trying to find what the word “Zacken” is in English. (I’m using “point” but I’m fairly certain there is a formal name of some kind, there always is…)

What I found was this (from an anonymous forum user) “Vielleicht interessant ist die Herkunft der Redeweise. In den Wappen der alten Adelsordnung wurde der Rang durch die Anzahl der Zacken in der Krone ausgedrückt. Der König hatte 7, der Fürst 6, der Graf 5, der Freiherr 4, das Freifräulein 3 (Beispiele frei erfunden). Wenn jemandem eine Zacke (oder ein Zacken) aus der Krone fiel, bedeutete das eine Degradierung von einem Adelsstand in einen niedrigeren, d.h. dass der betreffende seine Würde verlor.”

Meaning: The saying came from “crests of the old monarchical order, which were represented by how many points adorned a crown. The king had 7, the prince 6, the count 5, the baron 4, the baroness 3 (actual numbers made up). If someone lost a point, it represented moving from one level to the next lowest. In other words, that person lost their dignity.”

Now that certainly makes more sense, doesn’t it? But either way, more to lose or less to spare, no crowns should be worn on heads that aren’t able to carry them. Now in a very figurative sense, it holds just as true, if not more so. And now imagine, as the POTUS often does, that each and every citizen of the world, every human on the planet, is born with one. When, if we all start with the same number of points, do we lose one? How many are we ready to sacrifice? When and for what?

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